The History of Taylor County Chapter Two Hundred-Ninety-Four

Mrs. Compton Passes

Walter Steel, a prominent house painter at work on the front of the Grafton Bank on West Main Street on August 8,1904, failing to properly secure the ropes on his swinging scaffold came loose and the fall killed the young man instantly. Friends rushed to the scene to give aid but life was extinct and nothing humanly possible could be done.

Alva Elza Newton Means, a young political leader prominent in the affairs of the town and county announced his candidacy for sheriff of Taylor County. Dr. Thomas F. Lanham announced for the house of delegates. Samuel B. Ayer announced for the office of clerk of the county court and J. Granville Sinclair for the office of clerk of the circuit court, subject to the to the Republican Nominating committee. Robert E. Phillips announced for president of the Taylor County court and William M.O. Dawson announced through the local papers for governor of West Virginia.

The passing of Mrs. Ruth, wife of the venerable Henry Compton, removed one of the best and most lovable of the older women of Grafton. For almost a half century from her home on West Main Street, she watched the ebb and flow of humanity past her home from the beginning of the town and was one of the few group of the women left of the pioneer settlers who erected their homes among the eight families at the start of the hamlet known as Grafton Junction.

Mr. Compton came to Grafton from Fetterman where he was established as a manufacturer of all kinds of utensils made of tin and from, ,his shop supplied the first homemade metal articles to the settlers of the territory about the county of Taylor. With the building of the railroad junction at the joining of the Tygart Valley river and Three Forks creek, Mr. Compton envisioned a considerable size town would eventually grow about the junction of the two railroads and he came to Grafton and purchased the piece of land at the corner of Main and St. John’s streets and erected the two-story business and apartment frame house on the land. This old building, now three quarters of a century old, still stands in the rear of the two story brick addition added to the front. Mr. Compton occupied the business room which he stocked with a line of general merchandise and prospered in this venture.

He moved his family of wife and three sons of Grafton and installed them in the living rooms above his store and from her home Mrs. Compton watched the history of the town unfold before her eyes. She saw and doubtless took part in the movement for the erection of a house of worship of her faith and regularly attended services in this first protestant church erected in the town and saw her second son installed at the organ in this temple of worship at the age of 14 years, the first organist to any congregation and on the first organ used in church service that was an innovation and for a time was resented by some members of the congregation who regarded musical instruments as sacrilegious when used in religious services.

She saw much of the petty lawlessness curbed when a town organization was established under a town charter, watched men digging trenches the length of Elizabeth street and lay iron pipe to bring to the homes and business establishments a new illuminant that was wonderful and did away with the dangerous kerosene lamps and greasy tallow dip, saw the rocks that littered Elizabeth gave way when the town authorities began grading this thoroughfare and watched men lay flat stones in an upright position regularly spaced across the street to prevent soiling the foot in the mud and dirt of the unpaved village street.

Saw the people of the Catholic faith raise their temple of worship on the land in the rear of her own home and for years saw the parishioners walk past her home to attend divine services in the frame Catholic Church at the summons of sweet toned church bell provided by Reverend Father Henry Malone to call his parishioners to their devotions, and perhaps was astonished when she learned her eldest son, a lad of a different faith, was permitted to ring this first church bell in Grafton to summon the congregation of the Catholic faith or worship.

With the rest of the citizens, she doubtless gathered along the Baltimore and Ohio right of way to watch for the appearance of the famous “Jubilee Train,” carrying the most notable people of the nation as the guests of the railroad on their way to celebrate the opening of the North West Virginia Railroad from Grafton Junction to Parkersburg that gave the Baltimore and Ohio direct communication with the great cities of Cincinnati and St. Louis and threw open to colonization the great territory of the Southwest.


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